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Handprint Bald Eagle for the Fourth of July

We’re gearing up for our Fourth of July celebrations and talking about the symbols surrounding Independence Day. My daughter made a patriotic handprint bald eagle to watch over the festivities.

We found a great book at our local library, Red, White, Blue, and Uncle Who?: The Stories Behind Some of America’s Patriotic Symbols, that explains many of the symbols we associate with our nation. The kids are enjoying the brief, illustrated, mostly age-appropriate information. They learned that many of our founding fathers were concerned that the eagle was too commonly used as a national symbol and represented monarch. The eagle was also sometimes a scavenger. Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey, a brave, noble, and delicious bird that is also a uniquely American animal, to be our symbol. In the end, Congress chose the bald eagle, a North American bird with the required gravitas.

Materials:

  • construction paper: blue (background), brown, white, yellow
  • googly eyes or markers
  • glue (we used glue sticks for the eagle)
  • glitter (optional)
  • cotton balls (optional)

Directions:

1. Fold a piece of brown paper, trace a hand, and cut-out the shape. These will be the wings.

2. Do the same on the white paper. This will be the head and tail feathers.

3. Trace your foot on the brown construction paper. Cut out the shape. This will be the body.

4. Paste the pieces on the blue construction paper. First paste down the tail. Then the body, the wings, and the head. Add googly eyes or draw on eyes. Cut a small yellow triangle as the beak.

5. My daughter decided to embellish with glitter (“American Eagle”) and cotton ball clouds.

Enjoy!

Educational Connections:

  • History/Culture: Why did the founding fathers consider the turkey? Why was Benjamin Franklin unsure about the eagle? If you had your own nation, what bird would you choose to represent your nation, and why?
  • Ecology: Until 2007, the bald eagle was on the endangered species list. Why was the bald eagle in danger of extinction? Learn more about bald eagles at this National Geographic Kids “Creature Feature”.
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Written by

Candace Lindemann, Yale, BA, Harvard Graduate School of Education, EdM, is an educational consultant and published writer. She enjoys new learning experiences with her children, ages 6 and 4 and 1.5.

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